Last week as I was driving home from the grocery store, taking the slightly longer scenic route, I was suddenly overcome with an intense longing to be out in nature. The sky was a crisp fall blue and the trees that lined the back-road seemed to be waving at me, beckoning me to come take a seat beneath their boughs. It’s been a long while since I’ve taken the time to get away from the business of life and visit any of the parks or nature retreats in my area, and I have dearly missed that sense of connection to the earth. I had only an hour before I had to pick my son up from school, so a spontaneous excursion was out of the question. I was just about to dismiss my longing with a promise to make time for it sometime in the near future when it occurred to me that I have trees, the sky, wind, and sun, not to mention a nice patch of earth to lay on in my own back yard.
After putting away my groceries, I grabbed my ipod, headphones, and a tapestry and headed out the back door. I spread my blanket in a spot where the branches of an oak tree and a crepe myrtle intermingled overhead. My three dogs and cat seemed thrilled I had decided to join them in their domain, and each claimed their place on the blanket alongside me in lazy, stoic silence. Listening to Air, one of my favorite chill bands, I lay back and stared up at the canopy of green above me.
I noticed first how the sun’s light, coming in from the west, struck the leaves in every variation of green. Then I zeroed in on the activity of a bee in spiral flight around what looked to be an acorn high up in the oak tree. I caught the glint of one long, silken web strand billowing in the soft breeze. Then, the swoop of a majestic monarch butterfly with bright yellow and black wings surfing the wind. I marveled at how much life was occurring there in that one little place and time. A myriad of creatures carrying on the business of their lives right there in my back yard, day after day, and I was completely oblivious to it all. We were sharing this little corner of the earth, impacting each other in ways I can’t even fathom, and something about that realization made me feel a sense of community with them.
Though I could not feel the wind, I witnessed its presence in the trees above me. I asked the wind to come lower so I could feel its breath on my cheeks, and remarkably, within a few moments, I felt it gently sweep across my face. I turned my attention to the ground beneath me, thanking mother earth for these moments of simple beauty and communion with nature. It suddenly felt as though I were being held, supported, nurtured, and recharged. A joyful peace swept through me, permeating every cell within my being, and as I walked inside and drove to pick up my son, my heart was glowing with a profound appreciation for the gift of life.
As I reflect upon this experience, it occurs to me that yoga is not something that occurs only on the mat. Yoga means, literally, union. Union with my higher self, union of all aspects of my being, union with the source of life itself. As I focused in on the little microcosm of life playing itself out in that little patch of earth in my back yard, I became aware of the abundance and exquisite intricacy of life. Like a meditation session, I quieted the noise of my everyday life to take notice of the things that carry on without my attention all the time. Kind of like meditating on my breath, which also carries on without my discernment all the time. There is something very humbling and life-affirming about recognizing the vast and yet intimate web of life of which we are a part. Meditating on nature offers union with the source of life as we witness and experience absolute wonder for the interconnectedness of the infinitely unique expressions of life around us. There’s no need to put-off, as I did for so long, a meditation on nature until we can make the time for a big excursion. Nature is everywhere. If you’ve got half an hour and a blanket, you’ve got all you need to walk outside and be with it.
<a href=http://technorati.com/tag/yoga>yoga</a>, <a href=http://technorati.com/tag/spirituality>terms spirituality</a>, <a href=http://technorati.com/tag/meditation>meditation</a>, <a href=http://technorati.com/tag/self+improvement>self-improvement</a>, <a href=http://technorati.com/tag/inspiration>inspiration</a>, <a href=http://technorati.com/tag/nature>terms nature</a>